About a half-hour before the Wizards’ first shoot-around of the preseason, rookie forward Jan Vesely was shooting free throws with a black strap wrapped around his left thumb and extending to his elbow. Coach Flip Saunders brought in shooting coach Jay Wolf to work with Vesely on his form, and Wolf has a shooting strap that allows players to maintain the proper form with his guide hand on each jumper.
After shooting free throws, then jumpers with the strap, Vesely removed it and took more shots, focusing on putting the right arc on his shot and maintaining his balance.
“Jan, his biggest thing, is he hasn’t had to shoot the ball a lot,” Saunders said. “He’s dunked a lot of things, plays the open floor, and his shot, when you look at it is not that bad. He’s got to look at the fluid action of getting his legs and sometimes he’s tried to shoot it too much with his arms.”
Vesely, 21, has played four seasons of professional basketball in Europe, spending the past three with Serbian power Partizan Belgrade. He was known for his high-flying dunks, but the Wizards hope to help Vesely develop other aspects of his game to make him more effective.
Vesely made his first shot on Friday in his preseason debut against the Philadelphia 76ers – a high-arching baseline jumper that splashed through the net – and scored seven points. He also caught an alley-oop lob from fellow rookie Shelvin Mack for a dunk.
“When he came up, he played because of his athleticism and he played with veteran players, so he really learned how to play. He has as good a basketball instinct as I’ve seen. He has a lot of [Kevin] Garnett from his basketball instinct, making the right play, not holding on to the ball, getting rid of it. so just the basics of him, when you look at him, his shot is not that bad, it’s just a few things, but he’s a willing learner.”
Wolf will likely stay with Vesely for the next week. “Somebody that I’ve known, does a pretty good job with younger players,” Saunders said. “Someone that can spend a lot of time with him, along with our staff. Kind of give him a different voice a little bit. Give him some basics. He did a lot of stuff when I was back in Minnesota.”